Article by Eder Guzman
Friday, November 18th was the 43rd annual Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York’s Gala. Linda Lee, executive director, emphasized the theme of the night “Building Our Legacy”, by highlighting the sacrifices KCS members and their families have made by immigrating to America. There is still a great deal of need for KCS in the community: 1 in 4 seniors live in poverty, Asian women have the highest rates of depression and suicide in the community, and 1 in 3 high school seniors either do not graduate on time or at all. Keynote speaker for the evening was former New York State governor David Patterson, a political supporter of KCS and the Asian community. KCS posthumously honors Francs An, former president of Bogopa Group, and honors Young Je Yoon, chairperson of KCS. Special guest was Sean from Jinusean of YG Entertainment, who has been contributing $3,650 per year every year for the past 12 years to various charities.
Over the past year, KCS has been phone banking and registering people to vote. There has also been progress made with the mental health clinic that KCS opened a year ago, serving over 200 clients, double what was expected. The new community center that has opened up, 26000 sq. feet, and 75 full or part time employees working there or in other capacities for KCS.
In this political climate, things are becoming difficult for many people, and our community is no exception. One of our workers was taunted at Penn Station, called a chink, and no one helped. It will be a struggle with the new administration, and social service dollars will be difficult to come by. They thanked their board members for the support.
Spencer An was there to accept the honoree award on behalf of his father, Francis An. Francis, who sadly passed away last year. Francis moved to Argentina, and then New York, and opened a supermarket in Corona, Queens in order to satisfy the Hispanic and Caribbean population. He stepped down in 2014 and made his son Spencer President and CEO of Bogopa Service Corp. He gave 2 million to KCS, and 300,000 Korean American research center.
The 2nd honoree of the night was Young Je Yoon, Chairperson of KCS century planning committee. He was a vital part of KCS, recently giving $1,000 every month for the past 6 years. He purchased bayside community center in 2006, and helped raise $435,000 directly from the community. Young, along with current president of KCS Mr. Kwang S. Kim, helped create the Century Planning Committee, and helped the committee raise over $700,000. His fundraising activities are currently for the new community center’s capital campaign. His hope is to leave behind a dream for the future.